Fire Safety at Barnet House Update 3

New developments

On Thursday 13 September 2018, a Barnet UNISON rep accompanied the Fire Alarm engineer on a comprehensive test of the Alarm points. Barnet UNISON has consistently requested that every single Alarm point be tested since 16 August 2018.

We can report that every Alarm point successfully set off the alarm.

One of the big issues has been the delay time from pressing the Alarm which can be as high as 10 seconds.

It has come to light that this is because the Alarm system works on radio waves. Barnet UNISON view is that there should be no delays once the button is pressed which is why Barnet UNISON want the Fire Alarm system to be hard wired in order to ensure the alarm sounds immediately.

We can report the following actions agreed with Barnet Council and Barnet UNISON:

  1. The London Fire Brigade (LFB) will be invited in to conduct a risk assessment of their own to provide additional assurance. ACTION: by agreed deadline with LFB.
  2. August 18 Fire Risk Assessment Review to be assessed to ensure validity and that actions are in-hand. ACTION: by 22 Sep 18.
  3. Timings for fire alarm technical testing are to be shared with UNISON.
  4. Timings for replacing the 2nd floor call point are to be shared with UNISON as soon as possible close of play 18 Sep 2018.
  5. Second floor call points are to be functionally tested by physically activating, with UNISON in attendance. Completed.
  6. Lift repaired. Complete.
  7. Fire evacuation procedures will be reviewed in collaboration with UNISON: Action: by 1 Oct 18.
  8. Fire Safety Training will be conducted to brief staff on:
  • How the fire alarm system is operated and how it works
  • How the system is tested, including call points and tamper alarms
  • Fire evacuation procedures. ACTION: by 20 Oct 18.

9. Barnet House fire drill is to be conducted once evacuation procedures have been reviewed and additional training conducted. ACTION: by 1 Nov 18.

Please keep a look out for eNEWS and the Barnet UNISON website for details of any further developments here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/

 

 

 

Fire Safety at Barnet House Update 2

Below is a copy of an email sent to all staff yesterday.

“Wednesday 12 September 2018

Fire alarm test at Barnet House last night          

We are pleased to let you know that the comprehensive fire alarm test we carried out last night at Barnet House has confirmed that the fire alarm system is fully operational. We tested all alarm sounders on every floor, and will continue to carry out these checks on our normal rolling basis.” 

This is Barnet UNISON response to senior management in Barnet Council, Barnet Group and Capita.

Dear John

I do need to address the First Team email which went out to all staff yesterday which stated:

“We are pleased to let you know that the comprehensive fire alarm test we carried out last night at Barnet House has confirmed that the fire alarm system is fully operational. We tested all alarm sounders on every floor, and will continue to carry out these checks on our normal rolling basis.”

I was present for the test on Tuesday evening (8.30 pm). Those present included myself, Helen Davies Barnet UNISON Branch Chair and a custodian and one security guard.

I want to make sure that everyone knows the facts. There was no comprehensive fire alarm test and we did not confirm that the fire alarm system is fully operational. All we were able to do that night was check that when the alarm was triggered that the Klaxons were working. As I said before, I can confirm that all Klaxons on that occasion worked apart from one on the 10th Floor. Since I reported to you yesterday I have not had anyone contact me about which Klaxon. Can someone confirm that the Klaxon has been repaired?

On Tuesday 11 September in the morning some staff evacuated because they heard an alarm and others didn’t hear an alarm.

In conversations and correspondence it is very clear that there is some pretty fundamental issues with the Fire Alarm system. We have heard that testing on some occasions everything is deemed to be fine then we have an incident and it isn’t working.

A comprehensive fire alarm test which will confirm the fire alarm system is fully operational would require that all Fire Alarm points are fully working to be tested. To date this has not been completed. One of our reasonable demands was for a union rep to be present when this is carried out.

Fire Evacuation is worryingly an ongoing issue as this Tuesday has demonstrated. Apart from fixing the Fire Alarm I am proposing Fire Safety training is rolled out to all staff across all services and staff in Barnet House as a matter of urgency.

Finally I want reiterate the four reasonable demands we have made:

  1. A trade union rep accompanies the testing of each Fire Alarm point in Barnet House.
  2. On the second floor the fire alarm removed is replaced as a matter of urgency
  3. The fire alarms which have a ten second delay are replaced with Fire Alarms that go off immediately.
  4. Immediate alternative working arrangements off site set up immediately pending the resolution of the fire alarm system and evacuation plan issues.

I agree that this matter cannot be resolved by an ongoing email chain which is why I am asking to meet with someone who is able to make decisions on Fire Safety as a matter of urgency and not Wait until next Tuesday.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.

Barnet UNISON

PLEASE NOTE: Barnet UNISON will update our members of any further developments. 

Barnet UNISON: Fire Safety statement Barnet House

Dear Colleague

Following the tragic incident at Barnet House on the 15th of August Barnet UNISON raised our concerns about Fire Safety and Security at the building

These concerns included the failure of the alarm to sound throughout the building, including the area where the fire broke out. We also have concerns about the evacuation.

Since then UNISON members who were working in the building, including the area and adjacent meeting rooms where the fire broke have come to us and reported they did not hear a fire alarm, and the first they knew of the emergency was when they saw smoke and flames.  We reported this to the Council who took two weeks to confirm that one of the alarm points in the area where the fire broke out did not work and that the other had a planned 10 second delay.

On the 31st of August the Council removed the faulty fire alarm point leaving a sole alarm point in the area, citing that this fitted in with regulatory minimum requirements.

On the 31st of August UNISON asked the Council:

  1. While the regulations are that one should have to travel no more than 45 metres to reach a fire alarm point, it would be good practice for this distance to be reduced in the reception area on the second floor as people with limited mobility use the area
  2. Why is there a delay between using the single remaining alarm point in the reception area on the second floor and the sounding of the alarm?
  3. Are there other fire alarm points in Barnet House where there is a delay between operation and sounding?
  4. Will the removed fire alarm point be replaced?
  5. When were the fire alarm points in the reception area on the second floor last tested? The last record of the fire alarm point being tested is dated 16.3.18.
  6. How and how often are the fire points tested?
  7. Have the number of fire points been reduced in Barnet House over the last ten years?

To date there has been no response from the Council.

This morning following the Fire Alarm test at Barnet House the Alarm continued to sound in some parts of the Building. This led to some people evacuating the building at the same time as others were entering.  This situation led to confusion and worry for colleagues particularly for those who witnessed the fire in August. We have reports that staff on the third floor were told to evacuate. There was confusion over evacuations instructions on the walkie talkies and some staff evacuated and others didn’t.

The faulty alarm continued from 10.05 am to 10.37am.

Following this UNISON asked the Council why this happened and for confirmation that the fire alarm system was working.

The Council has not given this confirmation.

We therefore have no trust or confidence in the Fire Safety arrangements at Barnet House.

It is UNISON’s view that until the Council prove that the Fire Alarm can be heard in every part of the building and that every fire alarm in the building works then Barnet House is an unsafe place and people should neither work in it nor visit the site.

Our health and safety demands are as follows:

  1. A trade union rep accompanies the testing of each Fire Alarm point in Barnet House.
  2. On the second floor the fire alarm removed is replaced as a matter of urgency
  3. The fire alarms which have a ten second delay are replaced with Fire Alarms that go off immediately.
  4. Immediate alternative working arrangements off site set up immediately pending the resolution of the fire alarm system and evacuation plan issues.

 

Barnet UNISON has no higher priority than the safety of our members and that of the public whom they serve.

We will update on safety at Barnet House as there are developments.

Please note: 

We have written to John Hooton Chief Executive, Tim Mulvenna Chief Executive Barnet Group, Mark Dally, Partnership Director, Capita.

If you need advice or support please contact the Barnet UNISON office on contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

 

IMPORTANT: Update for all Capita Barnet UNISON members

Following discussions with the Council as to the process I can confirm the following information.

  1. Staff consultation to commence end of September
  2. Resident consultation to commence end of September
  3. Full business case to be submitted to a Council committee in December 2018.

What are the consulting on?

Barnet Council is now working up a full business case which will look at bring all services back in-house.

The Full business case will address the following options:

  1. Keep all services with Capita
  2. Bring some services back from both contracts with Capita
  3. Bring all services back from Capita

Barnet UNISON is campaigning on behalf of all of our members for Option 3.

Barnet UNISON is holding a number of branch meetings across Barnet house and NLBP. This is opportunity for Capita Barnet UNISON members to seek advice and ask questions.

Wednesday 12 September 12.30pm Committee Room 1, Barnet House

Friday 14 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 20 September 12.30pm Room G2, Building 2, NLBP

Friday 21 September 12.30pm Committee room 1, Barnet House

Tuesday 25 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 27 September 12.30pm Committee room 2, Barnet House

If you have any questions or need to speak to someone please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

 

 

Barnet UNISON branch meetings September 2018

Dear Barnet UNISON member

It is important that our members are fully briefed as possible about what is happening in Barnet Council. We have organised a series of 8 branch meetings  throughout the month of September in order to discuss and to take questions.

Here is the agenda for all of the meetings.

  1. Capita contracts
  2. Barnet Council Finances.
  3. Fire Safety.
  4. Move to Colindale.
  5. Sick Pay deductions in Barnet Council
  6. Any other business

Please find time to join one of the meetings to held on:

Wednesday 5 September 12noon Committee Room 2, Barnet House

Thursday 6 September 12.30pm Central Room, Building 4, NLBP

Wednesday 12 September 12.30pm Committee Room 1, Barnet House

Friday 14 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 20 September 12.30pm Room G2, Building 2, NLBP

Friday 21 September 12.30pm Committee room 1, Barnet House

Tuesday 25 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 27 September 12.30pm Committee room 2, Barnet House

 

 

 

Incident on the 2nd floor Barnet House

ATTENTION all Barnet UNISON members.

You are probably aware of the incident that occurred on 2nd floor reception on Wednesday 15 August 2018.

If you have anything that you feel you would like to report or discuss in confidence, please come to the UNISON office and speak to our Branch Health & Safety Officer Hugh Jordan Hugh.jordan@barnetunison.org.uk

Barnet UNISON are working with Barnet Group H&S, chiefly Ben Wildman along with Capita H&S and Facilities  to address any failures which may have led to, or exacerbated the incident.

Barnet Homes have put counselling in place for staff who witnessed the incident, but ANY staff who feel they would like to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to contact the UNISON office on the first floor.

The Health & Safety of UNISON members at work is our top priority.

Meanwhile back in the real world #6 : Air pollution health screening

Barnet UNISON has written to Barnet Council in order we can discuss health screening for Barnet Council workers whose duties include working outside.

Barnet UNISON notes that air pollution is a serious issue that does have a critical impact on the health.

The Greater London Area identified 16 areas of the Borough as having high pollution (2017).

Barnet UNISON is proposing that a working group is set up with input from the Barnet Public Health service in order to develop health screening for Barnet Council workers who work most of their time outside

Barnet Council does have an Air Quality Action Plan 2017-2022 which can be viewed here.

https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/environmental-health/air-quality/air-quality-action-plan.html

Barnet UNISON believes that working to reduce the risk to the workforce from air pollution would aid and complement this Council objective.

We will report back to our members after our meeting on Tuesday 4 September 2018.

 

Meanwhile back in the real world #5 : “At last, London Living Wage for Cleaners in Barnet.”

In the midst of all the mass outsourcing over the last decade one group of outsourced Barnet Council workers have not had much coverage.

I speak of the cleaners.

Barnet Council outsourced the Corporate Cleaning Service in 2004.

The Corporate Cleaning service covers most of the main Council office buildings, schools, children centres and Libraries.

It was one of my aims back then to try and get this service back in house or at the very least to ensure the cleaners were paid as a minimum the London Living Wage (LLW).

The Corporate Cleaning Service has changed contractors a number of times since 2004.

It is now delivered by Churchill Service Solutions who are currently only paying £7.83 hour.

Good News.

  • After a number of repeated requests by Barnet UNISON to address about the LLW I can now announce that the Corporate Cleaning contract now includes a clause whereby the winning contractor will now have to pay their cleaners an hourly wage (or equivalent of an hourly wage) equal to the London Living Wage.

The current London Living Wage is £10.20 hour.

This welcome news, whilst we managed to secure the LLW for other outsourced contracts this has been a longstanding fight Barnet UNISON wanted addressing.

The tender process for the Corporate Cleaning contract is currently live and the new contractor announced later this year.

Barnet UNISON welcomes the decision to ensure our cleaners are to be paid the LLW.

 

 

Welcome to yet another “merry go round” restructure for 0-19 year olds

UNISON has been in consultation with senior managers every week since the consultation opened in early July. In a consultation ballot 85% of our members agreed with UNISON that the consultation should be extended by 1 month as fundamental to the restructure is a new model of working. So far this has been denied.

Progress has been made on some points, however. UNISON has been keen to avoid redundancies and to avoid staff members experiencing a detriment in their terms and conditions.

  1. Currently there are a number of senior staff members and managers who are at risk of redundancy.
  2. There are a number of workers in the Youth Service who would experience a reduction in their pay.
  3. There is also a feeling that colleagues are being expected to take on very complex work without the pay grade that this should attract.

Avoiding Redundancies

Consultation feedback strongly recommended that the Advanced Practitioner role be made available to those not holding a social worker qualification. This has been approved and so it is our understanding that the 4.5 social workers will be assimilated but the 1.5 posts leftover will be offered up to otherwise equivalently qualified staff to fill. Over time there will be up to 3 posts at the Advanced Practitioner level made available to otherwise equivalently qualified colleagues.

The proposal is that only 3 of the Team Manager roles should be made available to those who are not qualified as social workers. This means that ALL of those in the ring fence are applying for half the number of posts. In the interests of minimising redundancies we asked that all of the Team Manager roles should be made available to all of those in the ring fence and that over time, as a colleague leaves a post, then up to 3 of those posts would be advertised specifically for social workers. This suggestion has been rejected on the basis that decisions around thresholds are such that social workers are definitely needed in the role at this level from the start.

We are disappointed that no compromise is being offered on this role.

Pay drops and pay rises

The new proposed 0-19 Practitioner Role is causing the most tension. It is graded at “H”.

Youth workers are worried at potentially dropping down in pay as they are on “I” grade.

Family Resilience workers are upset at now leading on CAFs, something they had done prior to 2014 but was removed from their job description following the 2014 restructure and receiving a cut in pay. Now they have this back in their job role but without the pay. They are on “H” grade.

Children’s Centre/ Early Years workers are worried they will be expected to carry out a role for which they feel unqualified and ill-prepared (although they will receive a pay rise) and are concerned they may end up being dismissed through being judged to be incapable. They are on “F”-“G” grade.

The most obvious way of dealing with this would be to leave everyone in the role they currently have but to allocate colleagues so there is a mix of Early Years, Youth workers and Family Resilience workers in each HUB. Everyone continues working with the cohort they are used to working with and for which they have the training and at the level appropriate to their grade. This has been rejected as the expectation will be for each practitioner to be a CAF lead.

After consultation with the colleagues from the different areas who will be assimilated into the new job role we believe the most sensible way forward would be to offer a role at “I” grade which will deal with the more complex work and this will avoid the downgrading of any colleague whilst offering the prospect of pay progression for those already doing complex work without receiving the pay recognition for it. It also means there is a job role for those who do not want to manage the stress of handling the more complex work. This option is being taken seriously by the senior managers but it is unlikely that the number of posts available at “I” grade would be sufficient to recognise the numbers of colleagues who should be at that grade. We are being told that increasing the number of posts at “I” grade will result in redundancies. We believe this is unfair as the Council has certainly made much bigger, and financially much more detrimental, decisions than this. We reject a position which sees colleagues penalised in this way.

We have also asked for the job description to recognise specialisms within the role. We believe this is important for taking this service forward and for attracting and retaining staff to the role. We also believe this takes proper account of the particularities of the different stages of development for children.

This job role is an area of concern which will need further detailed discussion and is unlikely to conclude with agreement by the end of this consultation period. On this basis we will once again appeal for an extension.

Overtime payments

A number of services run during periods outside of the standard working day. A local agreement is being looked at to ensure these services continue and that colleagues will receive a proper payment for carrying out these services.

Your UNISON negotiating team

This comprises the Branch Chair and mostly newly appointed reps from Family Resilience Team, Youth Service and now Children’s Centres. They have been making an invaluable contribution to the discussions on behalf of our colleagues and continue to do so. Please keep feeding back to them your concerns and questions.

UNISON meetings

A UNISON meeting has been organised Tuesday 28th August 12.30pm-1.30pm in Walnut Room, Building 4 NLBP to go over our final position before close of consultation.

Your reps are looking at the feasibility of organising additional UNISON meetings elsewhere in the Barnet in the afternoon of the 28th August or on 29th August. We will advertise the details become clearer.

 

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